Mass. Legislators Consider High-Speed Rail Study Between Springfield And Boston

Oct 23, 2017

Massachusetts legislators on the Transportation Committee will learn more Tuesday about a bill that would authorize a study on high-speed train service between Springfield and Boston. 

Peter Picknelly, chief executive of Peter Pan Bus Lines in Springfield, Mass.
Credit MassLive
State Sen. Eric Lesser rallies for high-speed rail at Union Station in Springfield on June 19, 2017.
Credit Brian Steele / MassLive

Last year, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed a similar proposal.

This year, it stalled during budget negotiations.

One critic of the idea is Peter Picknelly, the chief executive of Peter Pan Bus Lines, which provides service between Springfield and Boston.

"You're going to spend taxpayer dollars  -- hundreds of thousands of dollars to study something -- at least include a small portion of it to improve transportation now for all modes," Picknelly said. "You know, buses, vans, carpools."

State Senator Eric Lesser, a Democrat from Longmeadow, sponsored the bill.

He said he's open to the possibility of expanding the study to look at other forms of transportation, as long as rail service remains the central focus.

Lesser also has some predictions about what the findings of the study would be. 

"My guess is that the study will come back and say, you know: yes, it's an ambitious project," he said. "Yes, it will likely be an expensive project. Yes, it will be a long-term project. But the benefits will be astronomical."

Chief among those benefits, Lesser says, is allowing western Massachusetts to participate in a red-hot state economy that's increasingly concentrated in the Boston area.